From gridiron to mat

During the next few months, David Redding will be wrestling with the decision of where he’ll be playing college football come the fall of 2017.

The Columbus North junior has been getting some practice in.

Redding, an all-state offensive linemen for the Bull Dogs during the fall, decided to pick up wrestling for the first time this winter. He had a few friends joining the team, and North was in need of a heavyweight, so Redding decided he’d fill that role.

He has done so capably, posting a 14-10 record heading into today’s Conference Indiana championships at Bloomington South.

“He’s doing much better,” North coach Nick Skinner said. “We’re learning how to wrestle now. He’s not just a big kid; he’s a big kid with some basic wrestling skills.”

Though he was playing catch-up in terms of learning to wrestle, especially after suffering a separated shoulder in the Bull Dogs’ first tournament, Redding has surpassed expectations thus far — and he’s also picked up some things that he feels will translate over and make him that much better on the gridiron.

In addition to improving his agility and quickness, Redding says he’s been getting better at keeping a low center of gravity, which should help him come next fall.

“With pad level in football, low man wins,” he explained. “That also transfers over to wrestling, and wrestling to football.”

Skinner says that because of the attacking mentality involved, wrestling naturally favors football players coming from the defensive side of the ball. He has, however, seen plenty of positives from Redding related to his background as an offensive lineman.

“When we get close to the edge of the mat, he kind of goes sumo wrestler on guys,” the coach stated. “That’s pass-blocking.”

Because of his size and strength, Redding has shown the ability to compete with anybody in his weight class — but he’s still vulnerable to being outwrestled by guys with similar size and much more experience on the mat.

No matter how big and strong he might be, it’s difficult for Redding — or anybody else, for that matter — to get off the ground when you’ve got an opponent of that size on you, so Skinner is trying to avoid putting his first-year heavyweight in that position as much as he can.

“We’re working on blast singles and blast doubles,” Skinner said of Redding. “I don’t want him on his knees — he’s so tall that if we get on our knees underneath another kid that weighs 300 pounds, we’re probably not coming back up.”

Improving on the mat isn’t the only thing on Redding’s plate, however. With the NCAA’s most recent dead period for football recruiting having ended Wednesday, the junior will be getting plenty of attention from college coaches for the rest of the month.

“I think the next several weeks will be crucial to his recruitment,” Columbus North football coach Tim Bless said.

Redding already has a scholarship offer from Miami of Ohio, and Vanderbilt came to visit North just before the holiday break. Toledo is among other school heavily interested, and Duke, Northwestern and Stanford have all requested transcripts.

Bless believes that Redding will end up with a wide range of offers to choose from, many from some of the top-rated universities in America.

“He’s that consummate scholar-athlete, so that’s big for David and for his family,” Bless said. “They’re looking for that high-end academic institution that still provides Division I athletics, so I think they’re going to be a little bit selective in their choices, which is fantastic.”

After Saturday’s wrestling meet, Redding will be back in football mode Sunday, when he will attend the Indiana Winter Showcase in Indianapolis.

Skinner knows that there may be football-related conflicts between now and the end of wrestling season, but he’s not about to stand in the way of Redding pursuing his goals on the gridiron.

“As a coach, I understand that,” he said of football taking priority. “If I had a wrestler that was being recruited all over the place, and he just happened to be running track that year for the first time, I’m going to expect the track coach to say, ‘Yeah, you can miss a couple of things for wrestling.'”

While football is Redding’s future at the college level, Skinner is excited to see what he can do on the mat as a senior, once he closes the skill gap a bit on his fellow heavyweights.

“I like where he is this year,” the coach said, “but next year I feel like he’ll be pretty dangerous.”

If you go

Today’s conference wrestling meets

Columbus East, Jennings County in HHC championships at Floyd Central, 9 a.m.

Columbus North in Conference Indiana championships at Bloomington South, 9 a.m.

Author photo
Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at roleary@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.